Current Lab Members
James Crall (PI)
James received his Bachelor's degree from Swarthmore College (Biology, Sociology and Anthropology) and his PhD from Harvard University in the Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology. He is interested in how organisms interact with each other and their environments, and how these interactions drive broader ecological processes and the delivery of ecosystem services in agriculture. At UW-Madison, his research group studies bees and plant-pollinator interactions, with an applied interest in supporting pollinators and pollination in agroecosystems. To study the dynamics of these complex biological systems (from collective behavior to ecological networks), his lab develops low-cost, scalable techniques for experimental automation, data collection, and analysis.
Assistant Professor, Dept of Entomology
Faculty Affiliate in Integrative Biology, Nelson Institute
Dr. Nicole DesJardins
I'm an NSF Postdoctoral Fellow studying the thermal physiology of bees pollinating early-blooming fruit crops, with an interest in determining the stability of these pollination services under climate change. I completed my PhD at Arizona State University, studying the effects of pesticides on bee learning, navigation, and foraging. My undergraduate degree is from the University of Michigan, where I studied social behavior and cognition in paper wasps.
NSF Postdoctoral Fellow
Dr. Matthew Smith
Matt is a postdoctoral researcher interested in variability and mechanisms of individual and collective behavioral responses to ecological stressors, currently focusing on bumble bees. Matt completed his B.S. in molecular biology and biochemistry at Michigan State, where his thesis focused on understanding the energetics of a photo-protective quenching mechanism in Arabidopsis. Matt then completed his PhD at Harvard University with Dr. Benjamin de Bivort on understanding individuality in odor coding, innate and learned behavior responses within isogenic Drosophila. After graduating he joined Google X as an AI Resident/researcher developing remote sensing tools for insects. His research interests span topics of neuroethology of collective behavior in social insects, idiosyncratic sensory perception, applied computer vision for ecology, and molecular mechanisms of variability in behavior.
I am a graduate student in the lab interested in exploring plant-pollinator interactions, how they may be affected by anthropogenic global change, and the implications for biodiversity conservation and sustainable food production. I am originally from India, but earned my BS in Biological Sciences at Cornell University, where I worked with Dr. Andre Kessler on the ecological and evolutionary consequences of herbivore-induced plant defenses. Outside of research, I love talking about my housing co-op, hanging out with my housemates, cooking and eating with them… you get the idea.
Rafael is a research specialist in the Crall Lab working on the Temperature by Environmental Screens project with James Crall as well as assisiting in other projects within the lab. My undergraduate degree is from Arizona State University and focused on Conservation Ecology and Biology. My research interests are within Urban Ecology with a focus on the effects of habitat fragmentation.
I am an undergraduate student majoring in Biology, and I am pursuing certificates in Environmental Studies and Global Health. I am interested in human-insect and plant-insect relationships, as well as the connection between the environment and medicine. I love spending time outside, especially last summer when I worked in a butterfly garden!
Dr. Olivia Bernauer
Olivia is a USDA NIFA postdoctoral fellow who is studying how elevated atmospheric CO2 may affect floral nutrition, bumble bee foraging behavior and health. She completed her PhD at the Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment at Western Sydney University in Australia where she studied the pollination efficiency, foraging behavior, functional diversity, and natural history of the insect visitors to apples. Before her PhD, Olivia completed her masters at the University of Maryland, College Park, where she studied bee and butterfly foraging preferences through a citizen science project. Olivia got her start working with pollinators as an undergraduate at UW-Madison where she studied the impacts of a common fungicide on bumble bees. Her research interests include pollination biology, social insect biology, foraging behavior, and plant-pollinator interactions.
Dr. Jeremy Hemberger
Jeremy is an ecologist and entomologist interested in how insects respond to changes in the landscape - specifically those related to large-scale global changes in agriculture and climate. He's intersted in modern ecoinformatics approaches to explore questions and patterns related to insect ecology and global change and then use lab and field experimentation to test theories and develop more robust, causal associations between changes in the landscape and those in insect behavior, populations, and communities.
Postdoctoral Fellow (joint w/ Claudio Gratton). website
I study collective behavior and colony development in bumblebees, and seek to understand colonies’ behavioral responses to both environmental and human-borne stressors, such as temperature extremes and pesticide exposure. Furthermore, I am curious as to how variation in traits of individuals within colonies can drive variation in colony-level performance at particularly stressful periods of development. I use emerging imaging technology to build behavioral devices to study colonies both in controlled laboratory settings and out in the field. I have spent a lot of time and effort rearing colonies from wild queens for my research, and have grown very fond of the art of (bumble)bee keeping
I am interested in the effects of heatwaves and fire on plant-insect interactions. I am most excited by trying to understand how these stressors differentially affect insects throughout ontogeny. I am studying effects of wildfire ash deposition on plant-herbivore interactions with Manduca sexta, and the effects of heatwaves on social and solitary bee biology and behavior. I am excited about using computer vision tools to study insect behavior, and applying molecular techniques to understand the mechanisms causing altered fitness. I’m passionate about science communication and increasing diversity in ecology. Outside of research I like taking long walks, talking about research, doing pottery, riding horses, and trying not to fall of my bike!
NSF Graduate Research Fellow
Acacia is a researcher in the Crall lab working on several projects. During their time as a master’s student, they studied the relationship between the gut microbiome and the social network of bumblebees. In addition to carrying out lab experiments, they also developed a python algorithm to track bees with the use of BEEtag and OpenCV.
I'm a sophomore at UW-Madison majoring in biochemistry. I'm interested in the individuality in behavior and learning in bumblebees, and how it impacts colony roles and adaptability to stressors.
I am an undergraduate student studying Environmental Studies and Sciences with a focus in ecology. I am stepping into the world of Entomology for the first time but have always had an interest in insects, especially their relationships with plants. My tasks in the lab include helping with general plant care and assisting the research projects. Besides school and work I enjoy caring for my many houseplants, birding, and every craft imaginable
Former Lab Members
Cassandra Pasadyn (Research Technician, 2021)
Madalyn Laskowski (Undergradaute Researcher, 2021-2023)
Julia Wiessing (Undergraduate Researcher, 2021-2023)
Samantha Bjorklun (REU student, 2022)